Upon hearing from my friend Hemant that he was listening to a lot of Walter Trout, I rummaged in my hard drives and CD shelves to bring out my old copies of albums by one of the most fret-searing blues guitarists that I’ve heard. I hadn’t heard Trout in a long time. And what came up first was the two-disc live album from 2000, Live Trout, on which Trout plays with his band The Free Radicals (the band’s now just called Walter Trout). Read more
It’s always nice to meet someone who shares your tastes in music. You exchange notes, swap a CD or two or a few zipped files of new albums, maybe just exchange tips and leads on what blogs to follow, which bands to watch, or even bitch about musicians whom most others think are fabulous but you just want to avoid like the plague. But as you grow older and have less time to meet too many new people and often are finickier about who you meet, such encounters become rare. So I was pleasantly surprised last month when I met a new colleague in Mumbai who was not only as much of a podcast addict as I am but also a great fan of the NPR podcasts of which he is also an obsessive listener. Of course, although his taste in music and mine do intersect somewhere, he’s more loyal to latin jazz, while my interests veer more towards rock. Still, when we met for a drink recently in his town, we forged an instant bond about widgets, apps and downloads from the NPR website and of how our commutes have become so much more bearable. Read more
We’re almost into the second week of the New Year but I’m still exploring a bunch of albums that came out last year, many of which I hadn’t had the time to listen to. Actually January is a good time to carry forward some of the music of the previous year because it is rare for too many new albums to be released during the first month of any year. People—everyone, from critics, bloggers, bands, record companies to fans—are too busy recovering from the holidays to do anything else. Read more
Sometimes when you’re searching for new musicians you need look no further than the record label that publishes their work. Sub Pop is one such label. Set up in Seattle 25 years ago, it was a independent label that made a name when it signed up the vanguards of the Seattle grunge rock movement—Nirvana, of course, but also Mudhoney and Soundgarden. Those three bands may be legendary in rock music’s history but the list of great bands that have worked with the label is impressive—Sonic Youth, Death Cab for Cutie, White Stripes, Modest Mouse, The Shins, Built to Spill, Foals, The Smashing Pumpkins…. It’s a long list of stellar musicians and bands. So, although Sub Pop is not really a kosher indie label any longer (Warner Brothers has a biggish stake in it now), many people trust the label so much as to blindly pick up albums by new artists that it signs on. I tried Wolf Parade, Vetiver, CSS (Cansei der Ser Sexy, a very agreeable Brazilian band) and many other bands that I’ve become a fan of now simply because they have worked with Sub Pop. Read more
Last month after we’d heard the news of British singer Amy Winehouse’s untimely death at 27, the media quickly zeroed in on that particular number, citing the names of other rock and pop stars who had lost their lives when they were as old as Winehouse was when her body was found at her London residence. Winehouse was probably the most talented of the current crop of British women singers many of whom are, like she was, at the forefront of a revival of soul music. Read more
Rick Grech’s violin solo on Sea of Joy is probably the reason why I keep going back to Blind Faith, the eponymous and only album by the 1968 British super-group that Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker and Grech formed. I am not sure whether they lasted together for a full year but that album has so many of my memories attached to it that I can’t even begin to tell you. I must have been just a bit older than the pubescent girl on that risqué and controversial album cover when I first heard Blind Faith. It came out in 1969. I must’ve heard it in 1973 in my friend Sujoy’s mezzanine den where we used to meet for our nefarious activities. It was a vinyl that we played on a rather robust record player that he had – believe me, it took all kinds of mishandling, including some that I would be embarrassed as hell to tell you.
Last week, after a couple of quick listens to Radiohead’s The King of Limbs, I had gushed about that album. Now, after several more unhurried listens, I am happy to report that – despite the negative blah by some critics (no guitar riffs; nothing new; very short…. yada yada…) – it is a fine album that I’m going to keep going back to. In fact, what I did after the second, third and fourth helpings of the 37-minute TKOL was revisit the band’s back catalogue and get lost for a couple of days in all of their albums, particularly Kid A, Amnesiac, Hail to the Thief and In Rainbows, all of which came out in the 2000s, but also the super ones that the band released in the 1990s – Pablo Honey, The Bends and OK Computer. That’s what set me thinking about the Nineties. I know, I know, it’s been a while since that decade passed, but have you stopped to think how much great music was produced in those ten years? Read more
My recent visits to Kolkata, the hometown I left long before they changed its name from Calcutta, haven’t really been pleasant ones, partly because of the none-too-happy personal reasons for which I have to visit the city. But also because the city I go back to, albeit infrequently, is just not the place that used to be home for nearly the first 30 years of my life – and I’m not referring to its re-christening alone. I have fond memories of Calcutta and many of the reasons why I like the kind of music that I do has to do with being exposed – through friends, bands and simply because of easy availability – to a heck of a lot of great music while I was growing up in that city. Read more
The best supergroups—collaborations between already famous musicians—are often the ones that don’t last too long. Remember Blind Faith, which in the 1960s had heavyweights such as Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood and Ric Grech yet released just the one eponymous album? Or, what about The Traveling Wilburys, comprising Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty, who recorded just two albums? Read more
I’m an earphones junkie. Ninety-nine percent of the time I spend listening to music I do it by using earphones. It wasn’t always like that. The move to earphones came with the advent of the mp3 format and the pretty swift move from collecting music in physical formats (CDs, vinyl and tapes) to collecting them in mp3, FLAC and other non-physical formats.